Thanksgiving Time

Hello, my name is Montego, and it’s been 5 months since my last blog.

Audience: “Hi, Montego.”

Over the course of these last 150 some-odd days, there have been plenty of blog-worthy events to share. I’ve been keeping a list and hope to find the time. But tonight, as I lay in the guest bedroom at my parents house with nothing but the glow of the monitor and the clickety clack of the keys to break the dark, silent winter nighttime atmosphere, I can’t help but ponder about Thanksgiving time.

There are only a handful of universally respected dates on the calendar.  New Years, and Christmas (or your preferred equivalents), and your birthday represent probably the top 3, with Thanksgiving a strong 4th place winner.  What about Easter?  Too denominational to be universal.  Vetrans Day?  Important, but not nearly as impactful as the top 4.  Even Memorial day is lower on the Totem pole than Thanksgiving.

Yeah, Turkey day is a pretty big deal for everyone. And what’s not to love?  You get to cook and eat and drink, you get a 4 day weekend (sometimes more), and there’s some great TV to watch like the Macy’s day parade and a few football games.  Oh – and you get to spend time with family and think about what you’re thankful for too.  Right.  Between the glasses of champagne and the pie and ice cream overindulgence  I almost forgot to mention what this day is REALLY all about.  Being thankful, being together, being thankful you are together.

My parents, and to some extent my extended family did a marvelous job teaching me the “true meaning” of various holidays. Teachings that were always taught by example, not by instruction.  Each year at Thanksgiving we would all somehow get together, usually at Nana’s place, but occasionally elsewhere.  We’d each have our own “thing” we’d bring.  My Aunt, a baker at the time, would bring her famous Swedish bread.  Nana would cook Swedish meatballs if she felt like it, and others would just bring themselves, which ment a lot given how far (and sometimes treacherous) the trip was for them.

After a few glasses of wine, everyone would be taking up a storm and building up their appetites.  And when it came time to eat, we would carefully file into the dining room that had been transformed to be 90% table and chairs, 10% floor space.  But nobody seemed to mind, as the spread looked amazing.  The nine plates circled the table — with most of them matching– were framed with polished forks, knifes, and thanksgiving-themed paper napkins.  Everyone had their water glass and wine glass, and the salt, pepper, butter, and bread were all within reach.  Add a few candles and the table was full, forcing the food dishes to be placed on surfaces around the table — anywhere would due.

We quickly past around each dish and loaded our plate with a serving.  And before you knew it, you had green beans, mashed potatoes  butternut squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and one of two types of gravy drizzled over everything. What a masterpiece of meal!  Oh – and there was plenty of Turkey to be had as well, if you could fit it on your plate.

When everyone was finally served we took time to say a few words, usually focused around how happy we all were to be together, and how thankful we were for such an amazing spread.  We could hardly get the words out of our mouths though without drooling over the steamy plate of goodness in front of us.   Nana, we decided, was the only one entitled to start eating even before this quick “grace” of a moment. She was the guiding light of our family and so had every right to dig in.

The meal portion of Thanksgiving usually lasted only 30 minutes or so. People filled their plate as often as they’d like, and the wine seemed endless.  And after a short break to wash some of the silverware, it was time to reconviene in the cozy room for Thanksgiving part 2: the attack of the killer deserts.  Pecan Pie was Nana’s favorite, but there was also Apple, pumpkin, and chocolate cream pie — my Mother’s signature offering.  Cool Whip and Brigham’s Ice Cream rounded out the belt buster meal, and when everyone had tried everything, we retired to the living room to rest.

Aside from some small talk here and there, the tryptophan induced food coma hit quickly, encouraging most to hit the road before it took full effect.

And this is how it was for Thanksgiving at the Johnson Family for year upon year upon year.  And when I think of the 4th most universally accepted and important day of the year, I conjure up the great memories of past Turkey Days.

But as time passes, things change, and Thanksgiving is different now.  Much different.  I wouldn’t say it’s any better or worse.  But the days of 9 people at the table have given way to a smaller meal and a more intimate audience.   However, the spirit of Thanksgiving is still alive and well.

I’m starting to think of this current “decade” of Thanksgiving as a transition period. A transition from Father to Son, from one family to another, from old friends to new friends, and from current gen Johnsons to the next gen. Works for me.